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Space Dementia

Ouroboros is phenomenal, overlooked, underappreciated, and underrated. It is not, however, perfect, and little details like spelling errors detract from an otherwise stellar experience. In my opinion this deserves more downloads, more subscribers, and more reviews.

Ouroboros belongs to the subgenre of Space Horror, in the vein of "Event Horizon" and "Pandorum", a delightful collision of Silent Hill and "Alien".

There is a lot of it. Ouroboros has a lot of story to tell and there is a lot of in-game documents to find and read. Here's the short version: it is the 2080s and the UNSC (United Nations Space Command, the name of which is a direct lift from the Halo franchise that the developer might want to change if this is still an active project, and dear lord I hope it is) is developing its first FTL (Faster Than Light) capable ship in the orbit of oh let's say Jupiter. As Julie Ryans (which is not a real surname, another thing that could be tweaked), you're a reporter and computer programmer with a pretty haunted past that's sent to infiltrate the Ouroboros (I'm talking about the ship now, not the game) and report back on what's going down there.

What's going down there turns out to be a carnival of horrors: the ship's reactor activates itself without warning, everyone rushes to cryo-sleep in a panic, including you, and then...you are thrust without warning into a hellish recreation of your past (think Silent Hill, without the subtlety and nuance) and then awaken in a present that is even more nightmarish.

Without your clothes.

So...I don't know precisely what the gameplay IS. I'm not expecting any turn based battles, but I'm not quite sure what to expect. I found the gameplay, what there was, somewhat obtuse and mystifying? At first, I saw there were numerous dialogue options when interacting with the crew, and I thought we might be looking at some Sentient style fun. But then the horror angle kicked in big time. There was hinting at the fact that this was an adventure/horror game, and that you'd be hiding in lockers and that kind of Clock Tower stuff. Also I collected some ammunition, leaving me hopeful maybe at some point I'd find a gun. I thought the concept of hacking computer consoles and rerouting power was really cool, and I was reminded of Alien: Isolation, but the computer hacking minigame I performed before the ship up and went to spookytown felt nonsensical and arbitrary: I succeeded at "deactivating the two correct nodes" but I have no idea how or why!

I thought the graphics in this demo were phenomenal. Certainly not flawless but phenomenal nonetheless. I recognized Pioneer Valley Games' Mythos graphics pack, heavily (and occasionally a bit awkwardly--it's a big leap to imagine the fashion of the future has circled back around to the 1920s) edited and repurposed, but I have no idea where the sci-fi graphics came from and must assume they're at least partly custom. The skill involved in editing PV Games style graphics, which I have to assume there was a lot of, impressed me. The menus were heavily customized, the game made use of elaborate visual effects in terms of lighting, character animation (including sprinting, diagonal, and idle animations), elevators, and more.

In general, the game was a visual feast. It recommends players play it in the dark, alone, with headphones, and that is just how I played it. Nothing I saw actually scared me, but as an avowed horror junkie, I am pretty difficult to scare. Especially and particularly considering it just so happens that I just got done making a shock/horror game with PV Games Mythos pack myself.

Sound Design
The sound design was, in my opinion, excellent. All of the music chosen appropriately ratcheted up the tension, gradually but inexorably. The science fiction noises from the in-game terminals and UI/menus were appropriate, and little touches like the sound of rapid typing accompanying pseudo-code flashing past the screen during the hacking sequences were excellent. I'm always a fan of footstep sounds in these kind of games. But the sound of the protagonist's terrified hyperventilation in her cryo-pod combined with the screams from far worse happening to the poor bastards around her? Se magnifique.

Overall: Ouroboros was last updated in March of this year. I earnestly hope it's still an active project. There's something really special here, and it doesn't hurt that it falls into perhaps my favorite subgenre: horror in space.


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The TM is for Totally Magical.
Yeah. He's still working on this. Not just Mythos. There's also Wild Steam, which is how he got Julie out of her clothes. The sci-fi tiles are also PVG. As far as I can see, none of this is altered, or he wouldn't have mismatched her uniformed charset.
Yeah, I actually learned that from Jesse at PVG shortly after writing this review. For years I'd been confusing the "Sci-Fi Tiles" pack (which has much more than tiles!) from PVG with the "Futuristic Tiles" pack that I already owned, and hence not buying it.

I bought Wild Steam for the stupidest reason ever (I needed something that looked like a coach for Chapelwaite and didn't realize that I already had one in High Fantasy which I already owned) but upon really looking at it, the way Wild Steam lets you create your own characters is pretty cool. Although I wish that the facesets didn't all have the same eye color per race. 8 expressions, and one eye color. Admittedly it's a minor gripe.
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